A new study released by Altimore Collins & Company gave West Virginia the 34th largest college football fanbase, and the largest in the future look of the Big 12. The study estimated West Virginia’s fanbase at 1.84 million.
— Tony Altimore (@TJAltimore) June 13, 2022
The 1.84 million number is large, but is dwarfed in comparison to the top 16 programs which make up for 50% of all estimated college football fans. West Virginia does fall in the top 35, which makes up for 75% of all estimated college football fans.
The new Big 12 will be far behind the other four power-five conferences in terms of fans once Texas (7.82 million estimated) and Oklahoma (3.22 million estimated) leave the conference for the SEC. Those two schools combined estimated fanbase (11.04 million) actually come close the total fanbase of the new 12-team BIG12 (11.6 million).
Of the 16 programs that make up for 50% of college football fans, each power-five conference has at least two of those programs, except for the Big 12 whose top program being West Virginia, comes in at No. 34.
The Big 12’s total fanbase is closer to each group of five conference than it is to any of the power-five conferences. For power-five conferences, the estimates go SEC (54.1 million), BIG10 (44.6 million), ACC (31.7 million), PAC-12 (23.5 million) and Big 12 (11.6 million). The ACC includes Notre Dame, who has an estimated fanbase of 8.21 million.
For the average number of fans per team, the BIG12 sits under a million at 0.96 million and is the only power-five conference to do so. Each conference has a higher average per school fanbase than the BIG12’s largest estimated total fanbase in West Virginia. Those averages go the SEC (3.38 million), BIG10 (3.18 million), ACC (2.11 million) and the PAC-12 (1.96 million).
There is room to grow though for the Big 12 among it’s new additions. BYU (1.03 million) is tied to a religious institution, UCF (0.78 million) is among the largest universities in the world and Cincinnati (0.39 million) has been one of the more successful college football programs in the country recently.
Compared to the two most notable non-conference rivals for West Virginia, they fall right between Virginia Tech (2.77 million) and Pittsburgh (1.07 million). West Virginia was also highlighted in the study as one of the schools that does a great job at creating close ties between the university and its fanbase.